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In this digital age, personal branding is an industry unto itself—and marketers use it to good advantage.

The reality is that personal branding matters because people trust well-established personal brands over less-established ones.

Naturally, then, professionals (B2B or B2C) often invest in creating a personal brand. In reality, though, they should be investing in creating a personal legend.

Why Create a Personal Brand When You Can Create a Personal Legend?

Instead of creating a personal brand, think about creating a personal legend—essentially, an icon—with a legacy that can outlast the person.

Think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana, Taylor Swift!

All these people, from very different backgrounds, are a personal legend in that they are icons and so own a large piece of real estate in people's minds. The mere mention of their name instantly evokes an image, and even emotions, in people.

Not everyone may like them, but everyone knows about them and has opinions about them. That's the power of a personal legend.

Even without their million-dollar budget, you can create a personal legend. Implement the following five highly potent tactics to do it.

1. Being the Best: A Commitment to Excellence

An unwavering commitment to excellence, and being the best at what they do, is one of the hallmarks of a personal legend.

It's almost like an obsession, and it's found at every touchpoint in their brand: the work they produce, their digital footprint, their overall marketing, and the ways they show up in the world.

While personal brands are all about making their mark in the world with their brand, personal legends are more concerned about going where there's no path and creating one. They are innovative. They are often the first in what is being done in their field, or they do what is already being done better than anyone else in the industry. Daily, they remind themselves of their commitment to being the best and doing more than what others are doing in their space.

Takeaway: Commit daily to being the best at what you do for your business. Learn, discover, and do what you need to do to be the best.

2. Aligning Talent With Overall Passions and Desire to Serve Others

Personal legends are driven by purpose, not passion. Though passion is a trait of theirs, they are not ruled by it. They ensure that their passion is aligned with their talents (strengths) and the need to serve others.

Australian entrepreneur, marketer, and founder of the Red Balloon Group Naomi Simson once said, "Purpose is what you do for others, and passion is more about yourself." (Handpicked podcast)

Personal legends understand that; the need to serve is a calling for them, and so they make it a focus and add immense value through serving. They do more for others than anyone else in their space, making them the best at what they do.

Takeaway: Continually think about your contribution to the world and serving others in everything you do in business.

3. Being Great at Pattern Recognition and Trends

Personal legends are great at recognizing upcoming patterns, trends, disruptions, etc. long before they occur and so can pivot, adapt, and strategize as needed.

A great example is thought leader and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who back in 1997 started a newsletter subscription for his dad's wine business because he saw the potential in email marketing when most people at that time didn't.

Then, in 2006, he created Wine TV, a dedicated YouTube channel when most people were not using the platform for business. When TikTok came along, he was one of its earliest adopters, having seen its big potential for business long before others did.

Personal legends are great at pattern recognition and so jump on the bandwagon early to adopt trends, including AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, the metaverse, and more—long before others are getting involved.

Takeaway: Don't be ruled by how things have always been done. Be innovative, and jump on trends long before others do.

4. World-Class Marketing That Doesn't Need to Break the Bank

No one can dismiss the power of marketing in getting one's message out there, but let's face it: not everyone has a million-dollar budget!

Many well-known brands that now spend millions of dollars on their marketing started on a shoestring budget.

Marketing on a shoestring budget can still be world class if a great strategy is in place.

Such a strategy should involve building strong relationships, using referral networks, employing local media, having an epic digital footprint, and mastering SEO.

Takeaway: Come up with a one-page marketing plan in which 99% of the tactics are free, such as building strong relationships, using local media, posting on social media, etc.

5. Personality, Energy, and Vitality

Personality, energy, and vitality are precious resources that work together to help make a personal legend. A personal legend couldn't exist without them.

Tony Robbins said, "Your personality is your best marketing." The reality is that people want to do business with good people, so personality indeed matters. Then comes energy. To do great work requires high energy and overall vitality, which is having enthusiasm and showing up to do what needs to be done.

Takeaway: Daily, work at being the best version of yourself; eat right, exercise, have health checkups, and make sure you good sleep and adequate rest. They all contribute to business success.

* * *

Creating a personal legend, not a personal brand, is what will make you and your business stand out as an icon in your field. These five tactics will make you unforgettable, giving you an edge over personal brands every time.

More Resources on Career Success

The Four Principles of 'Career Distinction'

15 Career Lessons From Successful Founders [Infographic]

Marketing Career Advice (and How Great CMOs Are Destined to Be the Next CEOs)

Manage Your Marketing Career in 3D

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From Personal Brand to Personal Legend: Five Tactics to Achieve Iconic Status

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image of Sandra Gabriella Di Francesco

Sandra Gabriella Di Francesco of WORD EMPIRE, a global content marketing business helps businesses build an online empire with world-class content, SEO, and more.

LinkedIn: Sandra Gabriella Di Francesco